Delirium dementias and related disorders
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Delirium, Dementias, and Related Disorders. Chapter 29. Key Concepts. Cognition System of interrelated abilities, such as perception, reasoning, judgment, intuition and memory Allows one to be aware of oneself Memory Facet of cognition, retaining and recalling past experiences Delirium

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Delirium dementias and related disorders

Delirium, Dementias, and Related Disorders

Chapter 29

Key concepts

Key Concepts

  • Cognition

    • System of interrelated abilities, such as perception, reasoning, judgment, intuition and memory

    • Allows one to be aware of oneself

  • Memory

    • Facet of cognition, retaining and recalling past experiences

  • Delirium

    • Acute cognitive impairment caused by medical condition

  • Dementia

    • Chronic, cognitive impairment

    • Differentiated by cause, not symptoms

Delirium clinical course

DeliriumClinical Course

  • Disturbance in consciousness and a change in cognition

  • Develops over a short period of time

  • Usually reversible if underlying cause identified

  • Serious, should be treated as an emergency

Delirium diagnostic criteria

DeliriumDiagnostic Criteria

  • Impairment in consciousness - key diagnostic criteria

  • Children - can be related to medications or fever

  • Elderly - most common in this group, often mistaken as dementia

Delirium epidemiology risk factors

DeliriumEpidemiology & Risk Factors

  • Prevalence rates from 10-30% of patients

  • In nursing homes, prevalence reaching 60% of those older than the age of 75 years

  • Occurs in 30% of hospitalized cancer patients

  • 30-40% of those hospitalized with AIDS

  • Higher for women than men

  • Common in elderly, post-surgical patients

  • See Text Box 29-1 (specific risk factors).

Delirium etiology


  • Complex and usually multidimensional

  • Most commonly identified causes:

    • Medications

    • Infections

    • Fluid and electrolyte imbalances

  • Variety of brain alterations

    • Reduction in cerebral functioning

    • Damage of enzyme systems, blood brain barrier or cell membranes

    • Reduced brain metabolism

    • Imbalance of neurotransmitter

    • Raised plasma cortisol level

    • Involvement of white matter

    Interdisciplinary treatment priorities

    Interdisciplinary Treatment & Priorities

    • Interdisciplinary treatment

      • Elimination or correction of the underlying cause

      • Symptomatic and supportive measures

    • Priorities

      • Pay attention to life-threatening disorders.

      • Rule out life-threatening illness.

      • Stop all suspected medications.

      • Monitor vital signs.

    Nursing management biologic domain assessment

    Nursing ManagementBiologic DomainAssessment

    • Identify normal

    • Past and present health status

      • Description of onset, duration, range and intensity of symptoms

      • Presence of chronic physical illness, dementia, depression, etc.

    • Physical exam and review of symptoms

      • Special attention to lab values CBC, BUN, creatinine, electrolytes, liver function and O2 saturation

    • Physical functions - ADLs, activity level, pain

    Nursing management biologic domain pharmacologic assessment

    Nursing ManagementBiologic DomainPharmacologic Assessment

    • Substance abuse history

    • Assess for combinations of medications

    • OTC medication

    • See Table 29-4.

    Delirium biologic domain nursing diagnosis

    Delirium: Biologic DomainNursing Diagnosis

    • Acute confusion

    • Disturbed thought processes

    • Disturbed sensory perception

    • Hyperthermia

    • Acute pain

    • Risk for infection

    • Disturbed sleep pattern

    Delirium biologic nursing interventions

    DeliriumBiologic Nursing Interventions

    • Safety

      • Protection from physical harm

      • Low beds, guard rails and careful supervision

    • Maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance

    • Adequate nutrition

    • Prevent aspiration

    • Prevent decubitus ulcers

    • Pharmacologic

      • Treatment of the behavior must consider potential anticholinergic side effects.

    Delirium psychological domain assessment

    DeliriumPsychological DomainAssessment

    • Cognitive changes with rapid onset (several scales)

      • Fluctuations in level of consciousness, reduced awareness of environment

      • Difficulty focusing, sustaining or shifting attention

      • Severely impaired memory

    • May be disoriented to time and place, but rarely to person

    • Environmental perceptions altered

    • Illogical thought content

    • Behavior change

      • Hyperkinetic delirium: psychomotor hyperactivity, excitability, hallucinations

      • Hypokinetic delirium: lethargic, somnolent, apathetic

    Delirium psychologic domain nursing diagnosis

    Delirium: Psychologic DomainNursing Diagnosis

    • Acute confusion

    • Disturbed thought process

    • Ineffective coping

    • Disturbed personal identity

    Delirium psychological nursing interventions

    DeliriumPsychological Nursing Interventions

    • Frequent interaction

    • Support for confusion or hallucinations

    • Encouraged to express fears and discomforts

    • Adequate lighting

    • Easy-to-read calendars and clocks

    • Reasonable noise level

    • Frequent verbal orientation

    • Devices available - eye glasses and hearing aids

    Delirium social domain assessment

    DeliriumSocial DomainAssessment

    • Assessment of living arrangement

    • Cultural and educational background considered

    • Presence of family support

    • Family interactions

    Delirium social domain nursing diagnosis

    Delirium: Social DomainNursing Diagnosis

    • Interrupted family processes

    • Ineffective protection

    • Ineffective role performance

    • Risk for injury

    Delirium social nursing interventions

    DeliriumSocial Nursing Interventions

    • Safe environment

    • Predictable, orienting environment

    • Avoid physical restraint

    • Presence of family members can be helpful



    • Correction of underlying physiologic alteration

    • Resolution of confusion

    • Family member verbalization of understanding

    • Prevention of injury

    Delirium dementia

    Sudden onset

    Fluctuating course

     consciousness

     attention

     cognition


     activity

    Incoherent speech

    Involuntary motor movement

    Illness, toxicity

    Insidious onset

    Stable course



     cognition

    May be present





    Delirium Dementia

    Dementia alzheimer s type

    Dementia Alzheimer’s Type

    • Degenerative, progressive neuropsychiatric disorder that results in cognitive impairment, emotional and behavioral changes, physical and functional decline, and ultimately death

    • Types

      • Early-onset (65 years and younger)

        • Rapid progression

      • Late-onset (over 65)

    • Stages: mild, moderate, severe (Figure 29-1)

    Diagnosis of ad

    Diagnosis of AD

    • Essential feature - multiple cognitive deficits

    • One or more of the following:

      • Aphasia (alterations in language)

      • Apraxia (impaired ability to execute movement)

      • Agnosia (failure to recognize or identify objects)

      • Disturbance of executive functioning



    • 4 millions Americans

    • 6 million by the year 2040

    • 10% over 65 years, 47.2% over 85 ears

    • Highest prevalence over the age of 85

    • Twice as common in women

    Risk factors

    Risk Factors

    • Age

    • Gender

    • Can run in families

    • Low educational levels (for women)



    • Neuritic plaques (extracellular lesions)

      • -amyloid protein

      • Apoliporprotein A cores

    • Neurofibrillary tangles

    • Cholinergic hypothesis

      • ACh is reduced

    • Genetic factors

      • Roles of chromosome 1, 14 and 21

    • Oxidative stress and free radicals

    • Inflammation

    Interdisciplinary treatment

    Interdisciplinary Treatment

    • Confirmation of the diagnosis

    • Establishment of baseline levels in functional sphere

    • Establishment of a therapeutic relationship with patient and family

    • Management of cognitive symptoms

    • Delaying cognitive decline

    • Treatment of non-cognitive symptoms - psychosis, mood symptoms and agitation

    • Support caregivers

    Priority care issues

    Priority Care Issues

    • Priorities will change throughout the course of the disorder.

    • Initially, delay cognitive decline.

    • Later, protect patient from hurting self.

    • Later, physical needs become the focus of care.

    Family response to ad

    Family Response to AD

    • Family can be devastated.

    • Caregiver’s health and well-being are often compromised.

    • Caregiver distress is a major risk factor.

    • Caregiver burden often leads to nursing home placement.

    • Caregiver support can delay nursing home placement.

    Nursing management biologic domain assessment1

    Nursing ManagementBiologic DomainAssessment

    • Past and present health status (compare to typical)

    • Physical examination and review of systems

      • Vital signs, neurologic status, nutritional status, bladder and bowel function, hygiene, skin integrity, rest and activity, sleep patterns, and fluid and electrolyte balance

    • Physical functions

      • Self-care

      • Sleep-wake disturbances

      • Activity and exercise

      • Nutrition

      • Pain

    Dementia biologic domain nursing diagnosis

    Dementia: Biologic DomainNursing Diagnosis

    • Imbalanced nutrition

    • Self-care deficits (feeding, bathing/hygiene, toileting, constipation)

    • Impaired swallowing

    • Bowel incontinence

    • Impaired urinary elimination

    • Functional incontinence

    • Deficient fluid volume

    Dementia biologic nursing interventions

    DementiaBiologic Nursing Interventions

    • Self-care

      • Maintaining independence as much as possible

      • Oral hygiene

    • Nutritional

      • Monitoring patient’s weight, oral intake and hydration

      • Well-balanced meals

      • Observation for swallowing difficulties

    • Sleep interventions

    • Activity and exercise - Balance activity with sleep.

    • Pain and comfort management - Assess carefully, and do not rely on verbalizing pain.

    • Relaxation

    Pharmacologic interventions

    Pharmacologic Interventions

    • Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEI)

      • Donepezil (Cognex)

      • Rivastigmine (Exelon)

      • Galantamine (Reminyl)

      • Used to delay cognitive decline

      • Most common side effects: nausea, vomiting

    • Antipsychotics

    • Antidepressants and mood stabilizers

    • Antianxiety medications - used with caution

    • Avoid medications with anticholinergic side effects.

    Dementia psychological domain assessment

    DementiaPsychological DomainAssessment

    • Responses to mental health problems - personality changes

    • Cognitive status (MMSE and others)

      • memory – visuospatial

      • language – executive functioning

    • Psychotic symptoms

      • suspiciousness, delusions and illusions

      • hallucinations

    Dementia psychological domain assessment cont

    DementiaPsychological DomainAssessment (cont.)

    • Mood changes

      • Depression

      • Anxiety

      • Catastrophic reactions

    • Behavioral responses

      • Apathy and withdrawal

      • Restlessness, agitation and aggression

      • Aberrant motor behavior

      • Disinhibition

      • Hypersexuality

    • Stress and coping skills

    Dementia psychological domain nursing diagnosis

    Dementia: Psychological DomainNursing Diagnosis

    • Impaired memory

    • Disturbed thought processes

    • Chronic confusion

    • Disturbed sensory perception

    • Impaired environmental interpretation syndrome

    • Risk for violence

    • Risk for loneliness

    • Risk for caregiver role strain

    • Ineffective individual coping

    • Hopelessness

    • Powerlessness

    Dementia psychological nursing interventions

    DementiaPsychological Nursing Interventions

    • Therapeutic relationship

    • Interventions for cognitive impairment

      • Validation therapy

      • Memory enhancement

      • Orientation

      • Maintenance of language functions

      • Supporting visuospatial functioning

    • Interventions for psychosis

      • Management of suspicious, illusions, delusions

      • Management of hallucinations

    Dementia psychological nursing interventions1

    DementiaPsychological Nursing Interventions

    • Interventions for alterations in mood

      • Management of depression (Do not force activities, but encourage them.)

      • Management of anxiety by helping patient deal with stress

      • Remaining calm during catastrophic reactions, minimizing environment distractions, speaking slowly, being reassuring

    Dementia psychological nursing interventions2

    DementiaPsychological Nursing Interventions

    • Interventions for behavior problems

      • Keep close contact with family; help engage patient.

      • Do not interrupt wandering behavior, but identify pattern. Determine if he/she is confused and can not find way; walk with patient, then re-direct.

      • Distract for picking in air, wringing hands.

      • Determine meaning of vocalizations.

      • Determine antecedents to agitated behavior.

      • Reduce stimulation to minimize disinhibition.

    Dementia social domain assessment nursing diagnosis

    DementiaSocial DomainAssessment & Nursing Diagnosis

    • Assessment

      • Functional status, social systems, spiritual assessment, legal status and quality of life

      • Extent of primary caregiver’s personal, informal and formal support systems

    • Nursing Diagnoses

      • Deficient diversional activity

      • Impaired social interaction

      • Social isolation

      • Caregiver role strain

    Dementia social nursing interventions

    Dementia Social Nursing Interventions

    • Patient safety interventions adjusted for progression through stages of dementia

    • Environmental interventions

    • Socialization activities

    • Home visits

    Family interventions

    Family Interventions

    • Provide support, support, support.

    • Make home visits.

    • Encourage caregivers to attend support groups.

    • Inform family of available day care centers, home health agencies and other community services.

    Other dementias

    Other Dementias

    • Vascular dementia

    • Dementia caused by other conditions

      • AIDS

      • Parkinson’s

      • Huntington’s

      • Pick’s

      • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

      • Substance-induced

    Amnestic disorder

    Amnestic Disorder

    • Impairment in memory caused by medical condition or persisting effects of a substance

    • Severe memory impairment without other significant cognitive symptoms

    • Can be caused by a variety of pathologic processes

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